Leisure Recreation and the Arts

Small villages have limited forms of entertainment available. On St Lawrence Island, the community schools have gymnasiums that are used for basketball games. These games are perhaps the most constant local entertainment that involves whole families. School teams and local men's and women's teams compete on a regular basis. During the school year, "open" gym nights allow young people to engage in athletic games and other activities.

The communities also sponsor nightly bingo games for adults. These are very popular since they combine adult games with financial rewards. Individual families play cards and board games together. Scrabble and Yahtzee are popular. Men and women play these games together. Adults and children alike play Nintendo and other computer games. Family members vie with each other for access to the equipment.

Church-sponsored events also attract both men and women. Church events are especially in evidence during holidays. The same is true for other community events. Traditional dancing and singing are both entertaining and a feature of most community celebrations such as Thanksgiving and the fourth of July. At Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year, and the fourth of July, all members of the communities join together to cook village feasts and to engage in dancing, singing, and traditional athletic events.

Outdoor activities such as crabbing combine a subsistence activity and an entertainment. Large numbers of adults, particularly middle-aged and older adults, enjoy crabbing. It draws both men and women out onto the winter ice. Men and women also go out for rides across the tundra on all-terrain vehicles and snowmobiles. In summer, everyone who does not have to work at a wage-labor job travels to summer camp to fish, to hunt birds, and to spend time away from the village.

These leisure activities engage both men and women. Community leaders from the various community organizations (corporations, mayor's offices, tribal councils) work together to organize the community-wide celebrations. There seems to be no particular distinction among organizers, and men and women work together on these tasks.

Divisions between the sexes do not seem to characterize modern leisure time activities to any extent. Sports activities are both mixed sex and sex specific. For example, men and women play basketball together, or alternatively, compete among themselves, or have "male" versus "female" team competitions.

Some leisure time activities actually contribute to household income. For instance, artistic production such as ivory carving or skin sewing could be considered both a leisure activity and a form of self-employment.

Those who work most consistently are those who are engaged both as wage earners and as subsistence hunters and food managers. These are the persons least likely to have much leisure time. Both men and women engage in both aspects of the local economy and are those who often attain leadership positions because they are so productive.

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